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Aged care providers issue warning as COVID-19 ravages sector
With Omicron cases spreading widely in the senior community, the first month of 2022 has been deadly for senior residents.
As of January 28, 389 deaths in nursing homes for the elderly have been recorded this month alone, compared to 282 deaths for the whole of 2021. There are currently 9,643 residents and 14,257 employees infected with COVID-19 in the area.
- More documented cases in Australia of a new sub-variant of Omicron, BA.2, there is an urgent need to accelerate the rollout of the booster vaccine in the sector.
- Between 15-30% of aged care staff unable to work because they have COVID or are a close contact.
- Australian Defense Force personnel are considered to help run the aged care community in the country.
Paul Sadler, CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia*, says the impact has been devastating. He called on the national cabinet to develop a more coordinated national strategy to respond to the ongoing waves of COVID-19 and its impacts on elderly care. It also urges the government to review the issue of wages for older workers, including time-limited child support.
“What has happened is that Omicron has spread so widely in the wider community that it has infected residents who see family. It has infected staff and family members. And then it went into almost three-quarters of aged care homes across Australia, so it really overwhelmed the aged care system in a way that previous waves – Alpha in 2020 and Delta in 2021 – hadn’t done You have to wear gowns, goggles and face masks etc. There’s a whole extra layer of activity that staff have to go through to prevent the spread of disease and deal with But what I have to say is that we have a larger problem with pay rates for older workers, their salaries are lower than retail, health or disability. elderly, and people who work in. They deserve better than that.”